Sunday, May 31, 2009
What a thought provoking question? As most dinosaurs would tell us (if they weren’t extinct), there is evidence that being big can be bad for surviving. Being small has long been thought to help things survive extinction by having larger populations, greater genetic variation, shorter time to maturity, and fewer resources to suvive.
In a study done by paleontologists on a collection of bird ancestor bones approximately 65.5 million years old, it was found that there was a general increase in size for the birds in three of the four families. The big point of interest is the Ornithuromorpha, the last of these four families, got smaller over time and is the only family of birds who have members that managed to survive the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event.
So as Americans get bigger and stronger to conquer…everything in their way, I believe birds find their niche in the world…small and have the best chance at survival if they stay small.
I couldn’t find any recent study on the size of birds, but based on observations of birds from the 1800’s to the present there is no obvious change in birds’ size unless helped along by farming practices.
Keep the questions coming and I’ll answer them as best I can. You can also chime in if I get something wrong.
Source: The DinoBase Public Forum
Saturday, May 30, 2009
As I showed customers the House Finch drama throughout the day, people kept asking what the difference was between the House Finch and the Purple Finch.
The House Finch has not always been found in the eastern United States. In 1940, they were illegally captured in California and imported to New York by pet dealers. Fearing prosecution, the dealers released their “Hollywood Finches” on Long Island in 1940. Since then the finches have spread to all corners of the east and have even rejoined their relatives in the west.
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus are a familiar sight in mid-Michigan today. These 6″, talkative little birds get their name from their habit of hanging around houses. They build their nests in the hanging baskets, wreaths, or in trees, and their cheery warble or a variety of chirps is a constant around the bird feeders. The amount of red the finch has can vary depending on the amount of carotenoid pigments consumed in its food during molt. They have slight white wing bands, a brownish red head with a pink chest that has brown streaking. They also appear to have a sleek body and stand tall.
Purple Finches Carpodacus purpureus are not really drawn to human dwellings, preferring wooded areas and nesting high up in conifer trees. The males have a slight crest on their head and a lighter red above the eye and the females have a white eyebrow. The males’ chests are streaked with pink as well as a little brown. The Purple Finch is actually about 6” too but looks more compact or chubbier, with its legs bent close to the body.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Nuthatches (Sittidae)Description:
Large nuthatch with blue-gray upperparts, black crown and nape, and white face and underparts. Tail is dark with white corners. Female is grayer.
The White-breasted Nuthatch is a common bird of deciduous forests and wooded urban areas. Known as the “upside down” bird, it is often observed creeping headfirst down tree trunks while searching cracks and crevices for insect food. The name Nuthatch probably results from the corruption of the word “nuthack” which refers to its habit of hacking away at a seed with its beak until it opens. At backyard feeders you may see them eating suet, nuts, or sunflower seeds.
Nuthatches are monogamous and defend a territory throughout the year. The female White-breasted Nuthatch rarely strays far from her mate and stays in constant vocal contact when they are more than a few yards apart playing the dominate role as “watchdog”, leaving the male more time to concentrate on hunting for food. They are feisty birds, and pairs generally defend a territory of 10 to 30 acres. They feast on seeds and insects found in trees, and many times will hide seeds from feeders in tree bark for a snack later in the day or breakfast the next morning.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Thank you! C.
My favorite feeder is the Wild Birds Unlimited Lifetime Guarantee Mesh Finch Feeder. In the beginning of the year finches flock together and party hardy. It's impossible to keep the feeder full. Right about now you should expect a drop off in their feeding. First because there are other sources of food available. Finches are vegetarians. Their nickname is Lettuce bird because they will eat fresh greens. They will also eat seed heads from a variety of flowers.
I really appreciate your assistance. C
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Advanced Pole System
Wild Birds Unlimited’s Advanced Pole System (APS) has interchangeable hardware pieces that lets you build the setup that best suits your needs. Its modular design allows you to add or subtract hardware parts and other accessories, giving you the ability to create and customize your pole system with over 3,000 combinations. It is all up to you! Click HERE to see the demonstration. Or come in to one of our Wild Birds Unlimited stores and we can answer your questions.
List of birds of Afghanistan
The avifauna of Afghanistan includes a total of 499 species, of which 1 has been introduced by humans, and 2 are rare or accidental. 17 species are globally threatened.
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. There are 137 species worldwide and 24 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
Plain Mountain-Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
Black-headed Mountain-Finch Leucosticte brandti
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Pale Rosefinch Carpodacus synoicus
White-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus thura
Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys
Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla
Red-fronted Rosefinch Carpodacus puniceus
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Twite Carduelis flavirostris
Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Black-and-yellow Grosbeak Mycerobas icterioides
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea
Mongolian Finch Rhodopechys mongolica
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githaginea
Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta
Soldiers keep tabs on Iraq’s wildlife
The life of the soldier can be one of endless boredom interrupted by bouts of extreme danger and stress. So soldiers welcome distractions from the tedium of barracks life and some have chosen to pass their time through the observation of local nature.
One of the most well-known soldiers that blogged about what he observed is Jonathan Trouern-Trend, an Army National Guard sergeant who was deployed at Balad’s Camp Anaconda between February 2004 and February 2005. While pulling guard duty for a halted convoy across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, he is stunned when “I’m lying on the ground with my eye on some guy racing around in a pickup truck, wondering if he’s going to take a potshot at us (which would have been suicidal), while a pair of crested larks were not even 10 feet from me, the male displaying and dancing around.”
Michael Yon, a former Green Beret who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004, alternately named the house sparrows “French Fry Catchers” and “Saddam’s Sparrows”.
How many birders are there among American forces and contractors in Iraq? Although that’s one category of statistics the military does not keep, Trouern-Trend recounts meeting at least a dozen on his walks around base, and he has opened an (as yet modest) “Iraq Fauna Wiki,” a Web site on which anyone can contribute or edit articles on Iraq’s wildlife.
I hope everyone has a moment of remembrance this Memorial Day as you enjoy the freedoms on this national holiday.
Iraq Fauna Wiki
Michael Yon’s Online Magazine
List of Birds of Iraq
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I usually just rinse the feeder with hot water. To clean the hard to reach the places you can use a pipe cleaner or we sell little brushes for cleaning out holes of feeding ports, bee guards and flower inserts.
Once a month, I soak the hummingbird feeder for about 5 minutes in a Scoot, active enzyme cleaner. You can also use a one part vinegar to nine parts water solution to clean all of your feeders. Rinse your feeders thoroughly.
Whenever you clean your feeder, you will want to put in a fresh nectar solution.
It is also important to keep your regular bird feeders clean as well!
I think your first guess was correct. It looks like an unusual pose of a Green Heron (Butorides Virescens). They are stocky birds with a greenish-black cap, a greenish back and wings, a chestnut neck with a white line down the front, grey underparts and short yellow legs.
The long neck you captured in you photograph is not usually seen. Most of the time the Green Herons perch in the shadows, near water with their head pulled in tight against their body. When they spot fish, their neck can dart out quickly to stab its prey with a long, sharp pointed bill.
The Green Heron spends its winters in the southern U.S. and further south to Venezuela, Panama, and the West Indies. However it breeds across most of the U.S including your state and mid-Michigan. You can find the birds along the shoreline of rivers, oceans, lakes, and ponds.
The Green Heron are fun to observe. The birds feed normally at dawn and dusk but those hours are extended when there are hungry young to feed. They are one of the few tool-using birds. They prefer to hunt for frogs and small fish in shallow, weedy wetlands and are often seen dropping small debris, like bugs and feathers as a form of bait to attract fish within their striking range.
The video below is one of many I found showing the Green Heron fishing.
Thanks for your positive feedback. My intention is to write a short blog every day with little tidbits of information you can take away and share with others to spread the joy of birdwatching and nature. I tend to write about mid-Michigan because that is where our two Wild Birds Unlimited stores are located but everyone is welcome to ask questions or share stories and photos. Please write again anytime!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The loud, raucous harassment by the sparrows moved the grackle along. The sparrows usually leave the other feeder birds alone but they saw a threat with the grackle. Although there was no threat to me this time, it pays to listen to nature. If something is out of place, wild birds will let you know with their frantic calls of “danger, danger, danger!”
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Blackbirds and Orioles (Icteridae)
Medium-sized blackbird with metallic purple sheen on back, head, neck, and breast. Eyes are bright yellow! Female is smaller and duller. Juvenile is dark brown with dark eyes.
You might see a Common Grackle rolling on an ant hill. This behavior is called anting, and grackles as well as many other bird species roll on ants to coat their feathers in the formic acid the ants secrete and rid themselves of parasites. In addition to ants, grackles have been seen using walnut juice, lemons and limes, marigold blossoms, chokecherries, and mothballs in a similar fashion.
Grackles forage primarily on the ground. During breeding season, their diets consist mainly of insects and other invertebrates. However the birds are opportunistic and can eat goldfish, minnows, crayfish, small frogs, salamanders, mice, and small bats. They are also known to eat other birds' eggs and nestlings, and occasionally kill and eat other adult birds, particularly adult house sparrows. During migration and winter, common grackles eat mostly grains from farm fields and seeds, particularly corn and acorns. They also eat some fruits.
Friday, May 22, 2009
If squirrels drive you nuts or blackbirds and starlings crowd your feeder, you might try the safflower solution.
Start by offering safflower gradually, mixing it with the seed you currently use. Over time increase the amount of safflower until you are feeding straight safflower. The seed looks and tastes different from other bird seed, so it may take your birds some time to adjust.
Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, and squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The common name raccoon comes from the Algonquan Indian word aroughbcoune which “means scratches with his hands”. The species name Procyon lotor means “washing bear.” Raccoons have very clever little hands that can open just about anything and they often seem to wash their food before they eat it. Scientists aren’t sure why the animals go through the dunking motions even if there is no water.
The territory of a raccoon can be as large as ten miles. This means he'll usually stay in your yard for only a few days and then move on looking for different food, water, and shelter. Of course another one may replace the one that just left your yard or you may be free of raccoons for weeks. An exception to that is a nursing mother raccoon. Healthy mother raccoons are often active during the day foraging for extra food and can stay in the same area until her babies leave the den in about eight weeks. Afterward the mother and young find a new place to sleep each night as she teaches them to survive.
Michigan has very long days during the summer months, nocturnal animals will often start to emerge from there dens before dark. This only means that they are hungry. If you are thinking of trapping an animal remember most raccoons or any wild mammal during spring and summer months are most likely nursing females!
To prevent successful raccoon raids:1. Put a baffle around the bird feeder pole.2. Try squirrel proof feeders.3. Take your bird feeders down at night when raccoons are most active and store them in the garage, shed, or a secure container that the raccoon can’t raid.
Mammals of Michigan Field Guide
by Stan Tekiela
Book, feeders, baffles, and steel container are
all available at Wild Birds Unlimited, East Lansing
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Everyone has a friend that likes to tell you about the new "hot spot". Some birds fly in flocks and may send out a scout bird to forage for new feeding sites.
Or if you see a line around the block for a restaurant, you may get in line yourself to check out the food. Some solitary birds see alot of birds at a feeder and go see what all the fuss is about.
What if you see the "Golden Arches" on the way home from work? You know what's inside. Some birds already eat at the neighbor's house and may see your familiar feeders on the way home.
It may be a matter of hours before birds discover new feeders or a matter of weeks. The variation depends on habitat, number of nearby feeders, and the kinds of birds in the area. Chickadees, and House Sparrows are especially quick to locate new feeders. Also if you switch feeders the birds may be cautious to try that feeder. To encourage the birds to use new feeders tempt them with scattered seeds on the ground.
Monday, May 18, 2009
You can put houses up year round, actually. Some birds will use nest boxes as roosting sites in the winter. So you may have missed the first batch, but are just in time for the second or third!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Fifteen years ago, the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau created this event to increase community awareness of our attractions and the tourism industry's impact on the area. So once again you can explore culture and creativity, right here in mid-Michigan.
As Lansing celebrates its 150th anniversary, take this opportunity to enjoy attractions that highlight both Lansing’s unique history as well as its innovative and progressive future. This year visit old favorites such as Impression 5 Science Center, Potter Park Zoo and the Fenner Nature Center, and added new hot spots like the FRAG Center, MSU’s Breslin Center, WKAR Studios and taste the new “Capital City Sundae” ice cream flavor at the MSU Dairy Store.
How it Works: For only $1 you can purchase a “passport” which allows you FREE admission to more than 60 area attractions, local businesses, and special activities on May 30, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. **Ages 3 and under do not require a passport. Get from place to place with CATA. For only 50 cents you will receive a stamp which will allow you to ride the Be A Tourist routes for the rest of the day for no extra charge.
Join Fenner Nature Center, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Potter Park Zoo for a day full of fun and information. Start out the day at Fenner on a bird walk 8-10 am. Search for migrating birds on their return from warmer climates, and also nesting residents setting up their summer territories. Enjoy more activities, talks and demonstrations at Potter Park, all provided by individuals and organizations interested in spreading the word about the life of birds.
Fenner Nature Center • 2020 E. Mt. Hope, Lansing • (517) 483-4224 Feed, handle and learn about some of Michigan’s coolest snakes, frogs, turtles and salamanders 10 am- 4 pm. Take a guided walk on our beautiful trails with a staff naturalist 8 am - 10 am.
Potter Park Zoo •1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing • (517) 342-2714 • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This four-season zoo is home to over 400 wonders of wildlife. Hands-on family activities will be going on throughout the zoo including face painting: games, educational programs, baby birds hatching, and booths by additional organizations 10 am- 5 pm.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
However, if you find a baby bird that is old enough to fly, but isn't, chances are it is learning. If you look, you will see the mother nearby. Leave these older birds alone and let them learn to fly undisturbed.
If you're not sure call for help before you do anything. For a list of licensed rehabilitators click HERE. Or to search for a local wildlife rehabilitation group: http://www.wildliferehabber.org/ and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
Friday, May 15, 2009
What do I do with an injured bird?
What You Can Do:
1. CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference.
The following is a small list of the local rehabilitators:
- East Lansing, MI ♦ 517.351.7304 ♦ Cheryl Connell-Marsh ♦ birds and small animals
- Lansing, MI ♦ 517-646-9374 ♦ Tiffany Rich ♦ white tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons; Vet. Tech. on center.
- DeWitt, MI ♦ 517.930-0087 ♦ Wildside Rehab & Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
- Eaton Rapids, MI ♦ 517-663-6153 ♦ Wildside Rehab & Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
- Holt, MI ♦ 517-694-9618 ♦ Carolyn Tropp email@example.com ♦ Waterfowl, small birds and mammals
- Howell, MI ♦ 517-548-5530 ♦ Howell Conference and Nature Center ♦ All wild animals except bats, skunks, starlings, raccoons, pigeons, or house sparrows.
- Bath, MI ♦ 517-819-0170 (day) 517-641-6314 (evening) ♦ Denise Slocum ♦ Small mammals
- For a complete list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
- Or to search for a local wildlife rehabilitation group: http://www.wildliferehabber.org/
3. Find a cardboard box to hold the bird. Scoop up the bird in a towel and very gently place it into the box, towel and all. Keep the box in a dark, warm area where there are no loud noises. If you have to take the bird in yourself to the rehab center, do not have a radio on in your vehicle- noises will frighten the bird.
4. Do not attempt to feed the bird or perform any first aid. Birds are very easily stressed by handling and need an experienced veterinarian to care for them.
5. It is illegal (in the USA) for unlicensed individuals to possess any wild bird for any reason beyond overnight care before transporting to a rehabilitation site. Birds have diverse requirements for diet, care and wild birds do not adapt well to captivity.
6. Ask the rehabilitation expert if you can release the bird if he is able to get well again. Often birds should be released near where they were found. That is the best reward for the kindness of rescuing an injured bird!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Sparrows (Emberizidae)
Description: Medium-sized sparrow with heavily streaked gray-brown upperparts. Dull white underparts have dark central breast spot and thick streaks. Head has a brown crown with paler median stripe, pale gray eyebrow, white chin, and dark brown moustache stripe.
General: The Song Sparrow lives up to its name, being one of the most persistent singers throughout the spring and summer. The scientific name Melodia means "melody" in Greek. Click here to hear the song.
Behavior: It prefers brushy areas, especially in fields, along streams and the borders of woodlands and mainly eat insects and seeds on the ground. The Song Sparrow is a cautious bird in much of its behaviors, spending a lot of its time in the shadows or in areas matching its coloration.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Similar in size to a goldfinch, the male Indigo buntings look blue with black wings, tail, and beak. The females are a soft brown with brown streaks on the breast and a light throat. The young look similar to the female.
When I saw a tiny dark bird on the finch feeder at the Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing store I wasn’t sure what bird it was until the sun hit its feathers. Indigo Buntings are almost black but the diffraction of light through their feathers makes them look blue.
These small bright birds make their way to Michigan from Central America during the spring, and settle in woodland edges and farmlands to nest in the spring and summer. Indigos like a variety of food, including small seeds, nuts, berries, insects, mosquitoes, flies, aphids, small spiders, buds, goldenrod, thistle, grasses, and herbs. At my feeders they like the Nyger Thistle and the No-Mess blend which has the sunflower chips, peanuts, and millet without the hulls.
Down south the birds winter in huge flocks that forage together in the day and roost together at night. During breeding season in the north the birds live a solitary life defending their territory and hunting alone or with a mate. Older male buntings are first to arrive on their Michigan breeding grounds in late April to mid May. They will have already staked out their territories by the time the females arrive about two weeks later.
The females do most of the feeding and caring for the young, while the male defends the nest against intruders. Once the young have fledged the males will teach them to forage, while the female is busy building a new nest for the next brood. Together each pair will raise as many as three broods.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Yours truly, East Lansing
The Best Bird Food in Town
Experience the Freshest in Bird Food.F
reshest in Bird Food.
We have tons of fresh seed delivered every week to our Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI. Wild Birds Unlimited is dedicated to offering fresh, top-quality seed. Our no-waste bird seed blends are made from 100% edible seed and have been exclusively formulated for the feeding preferences of our local birds. No cereal fillers—just fresh, high-quality seed your birds will love.
We also carry a wide variety of other bird foods—suet and no-melt doughs, seed cylinders, mealworms and more.
WBU Bird Seed and Seed Blends
All of our blends are made of the stuff birds like to eat! We learned long ago the better the blend, the better your bird watching! Bargain bird seed may have inexpensive seeds like milo and wheat mixed in to bulk up the bag. However, in most regions these seeds are not eaten by bird feeder birds and is left to sprout or rot on the ground. We also stock all the non-blended bird seeds like WBU Premium Oil Sunflower, sunflower chips, safflower, Nyjer® (thistle), peanuts, and ear corn.
WBU Suet Products
We carry a high quality line of suet products for birds like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, bluebirds, wrens, mockingbirds, etc. Use “suets” for shady/warm to winter temperatures. Use “suet doughs” for sunny/hot situations. We have quite a few varieties, so keep trying them out until you find the most popular for your backyard. Peanut Butter Suet and Cranberry Fare seed cakes are probably the most popular.
WBU Specialty Feeders
Our Bird Seed Cylinders are an easy way to offer your birds a wide variety of food. They’re convenient, too. Just set one out and watch. Try offering a Seed Cylinder on our Seed Cylinder Feeder or Dinner Bell Feeder.
If you don't want to make your own nectar from white sugar, we have ready to use nectar that provides the high calories the active hummingbirds and orioles need. It contains no dyes or additives and delivers wonderful results. Any leftover solution can be stored in your refrigerator for later use.
It's the goal of Wild Birds Unlimited for you to have the best possible experience from your bird feeding hobby. Backyard bird feeding is the most relaxing, fulfilling, educational and exciting hobby that everyone can enjoy. If you have any other questions let me know.
Wild Birds Unlimited
2200 Coolidge Rd. Ste.17
East Lansing, MI 48823ph.
That's an excellent question that puzzled scientists for many years! The answer is that they develop a "default" cowbird song regardless of their host. Once they fledge from their host's nest, they have an innate sense to find other cowbirds and form juvenile flocks.
Social interactions and aggression help shape their songs and determine the dominant males. While the dominant males are more attractive to the females, they also attract negative attention from males and risk more attacks. In contrast to many other birdsong species, cowbirds raised in isolation result in a very attractive "default" song since there is no one to challenge the isolated bird to decrease the appeal of his song.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Sparrows (Emberizidae)
A very tiny, clean, crisp, energetic, sparrow about five inches long and weighing only a half ounce. It has a chestnut cap and a white stripe above the eye, and a black stripe through the eye. The female is the same but slightly duller.
Chipping Sparrows are well adapted to the presence of people and don’t mind if you are nearby watering flowers or filling the feeder. They now live and nest in a very wide variety of habitats, including the suburbs.
Arriving in April and May to the Michigan area from its winter home in Mexico, Central America or the southern United States, they perch high in a tree and sing a song to mark their territory. The loud, trilling songs of a chipping sparrow are one of the most common sounds of spring and easily identifiable. The song is often described as the sound of an electric sewing machine. To hear the chipping sparrow’s song, visit HERE.
The males arrive a week or so before the females and once paired, they share nesting, hatching and feeding-the-chicks duties. You may see them picking up any stray seeds from your birdfeeder or feeding on a ground feeder. Their appetite for insects and the seeds of many weeds and grasses make them true allies in any yard. One of their choice foods are the seeds of crabgrass…help yourself little guys!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
One reason the female stays brown is that she needs to blend in with the trees when she is sitting on a nest of eggs later in the summer. Another reason is she doesn't need to be showy. The males need to be bright to attract a mate and defend their territory from other males. Research also suggests that as testosterone in male birds increases, so does the level of carotenoids, the chemicals that create the bright coloring on birds' feathers, beaks, and legs.
Many customers think that the American goldfinch disappears in the winter. Actually, in the fall, all the goldfinches molt again into their yellowish brown winter plumage. During the winter months both male and female goldfinches look similar and are actively feeding in Michigan.
Gardening Trick for Goldfinches: Habitat can be a key to attracting Goldfinches. In this case you do less work, not more. Don't worry about dandelions and don't cut off the tops of your Marigold, Zinnias, Cosmos, or Coneflowers...Goldfinches love them.
Sunday, May 10, 1:00-2:00pm.
$4/person. $2 for members, at the door.
Some wild-growing plants that are thorny are often pulled from your backyard garden but can be valuable plants to a host of beautiful butterflies.
Mother’s Day participants are encouraged to look beyond the prickles and gain an understanding of each plant’s ecological benefits, especially to butterflies. At the presentation’s conclusion, participants can choose a potted prickly plant to take home and nurture in the yard. Jim guarantees that "if you plant it, they will come."
After the presentation Jim will lead an interpretive walk on the trails, open to any nature center visitors.
For more information contact Fenner director, Jim McGrath,
FENNER NATURE CENTER
2020 E. Mount Hope Road
Lansing, MI 48910
Monday, May 4, 2009
A streamlined body shape and a lightweight skeleton composed of hollow bones minimize air resistance and reduce the amount of energy necessary to become and remain airborne. Well-developed pectoral muscles, which are attached to a uniquely avian structure called the furculum, power the flapping motion of the wings. The long feathers of the wings act as airfoils which help generate the lift necessary for flight.
Birds have a large, four-chambered heart which proportionately weighs 6 times more than a human heart. This, combined with a rapid heartbeat (the resting heart rate of a small songbird is about 500 beats per minute; that of a hummingbird is about 1,000 beats per minute) satisfies the rigorous metabolic demands of flight. Unlike mammalian or reptilian lungs, the lungs of birds remain inflated at all times, with the air sacs acting as bellows to provide the lungs with a constant supply of fresh air.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Sparrows (Emberizidae)
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Sparrows (Emberizidae)
Both are medium sized sparrows with brown streaked upper parts, plain gray underparts, and black-and-white striped heads. The White-throated has a conspicuous white throat and yellow spots between eyes and bill.
White-throated Sparrows like to scratch on the ground with a series of quick kicks when they feed and remind me of chickens. These birds follow a well-defined hierarchy, which puts males ahead of females and older sparrows ahead of younger sparrows. The oldest male birds are the ones that sing the most. They are known to migrate at night and begin their flights around sunset. Some research studies suggest they use star patterns as one means of navigation.
White-crowned Sparrows tend to visit feeders early and late in the day. They enjoy millet and also will eat sunflower chips. They will avoid conflicts when eating by facing the same direction as other birds. Through the analysis of bird banding records, the average life span of a White-crowned Sparrow is thought to be around 16 months while the longest known lifespan was just over 13 years. While migrating north in the spring, their average travel distance is about 70 miles per day.
You may hear the birds before you see them. I always think White-throated sparrows have a song that sounds like a chickadee yodeling. Birders describe their song as "poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" and the White-crowned sparrow says "poor-wet-wetter-chee-zee".
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Today they are only found naturally in three places in Great Britain. It's a protected species but also available from cultivated stock as bulbs in late autumn. The purple, pink and white chequered flowers appear from April to May on stems of around 12 inches high. I also planted the white variation.